In this episode of Humanize, Wesley J. Smith speaks with Jim Palmer, the president of the Orange County Rescue Mission about the many causes and potential cures of America’s seemingly intractable homeless crisis. It is a crucial, if disturbing, conversation that touches upon the most existential needs of people and our mutual responsibilities to each other.
Homelessness has reached crisis proportions in which even our most prosperous cities — such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle — witness thousands of people living in squalid tent encampments lining streets that provide scant shelter for people that many of us would rather ignore. It’s all such a mess, it is tempting to throw up one’s hands in despair.
But understanding the causes of homelessness is the key to solving the crisis. Palmer describes the role government policy plays in creating and perpetuating homelessness, he reveals how addiction and mental health issues culminate with people living in a tent on the street.
But all is not lost. There are many reasons for hope. People can return to self-sufficiency and healthy functioning when they voluntarily receive compassionate and loving engagement under “tough love “policies that require people to refrain from using drugs and help themselves in an environment of structured and loving support. Palmer describes the work of rescue missions and offers an optimistic assessment of what can be accomplished — if only regulators would step out of the way.